Legendary singer Anita Baker was honored at the BET Awards with impressive performances that nearly brought the eight-time Grammy winner to tears.
Baker earned the Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, where Ledisi, Marsha Ambrosius and Yolanda Adams — in superior form — sang the singer’s well-known hits onstage.
The 60-year-old, who dominated the R&B charts from the early ’80s to mid-90s with smooth songs like “Sweet Love” and “Giving You the Best That I Got,” used her speech to encourage the artists in the room to keep music alive.
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“I would ask that the music be allowed to play, that singers are allowed to sing, and rappers are allowed to rap, and poets are allowed to rhyme,” Baker said.
Anita just told the yungins in the nicest way possible, get yo shit together! Legend! #BETAwards
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Rising singer H.E.R. had one of the night’s best performances, as she sang the R&B hit “Focus,” played the electric guitar like a rock star and sang softly during the sweet love song “Best Part,” where she was joined by Daniel Caesar.
Rapper Meek Mill, who was released from prison in April, also captivated the audience with his performance: He rapped the song “Stay Woke” on a stage transformed into a street corner, featuring hustlers, children and police officers. A mother screams as her child is shot during the powerful performance, and an officer lays an American flag over the body.
Meek Mill also made a statement by wearing a hoodie featuring the face of XXXTentacion, the 20-year-old rapper-singer who died after being shot last week.
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“We can’t get used to these types of things. We’re too used to young people getting killed,” host Jamie Foxx said when speaking about XXXTentacion later in the show.
The Oscar winner told the audience to “try to sneak a message in” their music.
“We got to figure something out,” he said.